Welcome back to our ongoing series about creating authority content for your business. Last week we discussed what exactly authority content is, and how it has become one of the most important digital marketing trends for businesses in all industries. Today we discuss the first step to developing authority through content, which is by creating high-quality content.
The need to develop high-quality written copy might seem obvious, but it is far easier said than done, which you may know first hand already if you have attempted to write your business’s copy.
The content you create is your opportunity to not only display your knowledge about your field, but also to create a stronger connection between your brand and your readers/potential customers. It is imperative you take advantage of this opportunity by developing high-quality content.
Here are some tips to help you accomplish this.
Steps to take before you begin writing
It’s tempting to sit down in front of your computer and just begin typing, but developing high-quality content begins before you actually sit in front of your computer. If your goal with your content is for people to read and share it, you need to first make sure you are actually writing content geared toward your audience.
Finding your audience shouldn’t be too difficult if you have already identified your target buyer personas. You can send out surveys, ask for reader feedback, meet your target audience in person at conferences or events and simply track the kinds of content people in your target audience tend to share
If you already know your target audience, ask yourself what information they want or need, what topics they would like to see covered and what is most likely to influence them. The answers to these questions should influence the kind of content you develop.
Next, make sure you do plenty of research before you actually start writing. There should be no doubts about the accuracy of any information you include in your articles or white papers. Simply identify the topics you wish to write about, review the information that is currently available, and identify gaps in that information; the best content is going to provide something new that existing content on the subject is missing.
Build a content marketing planner
Connect with your marketing team or agency on at least a quarterly basis for a half-day session during which you will brainstorm about your upcoming content needs. Most content falls into one or more of several categories.
You should be using each and every content style and delivery mechanism mentioned below.
- Entertainment. This is content that has an emotional connection and builds awareness. The content should come in many forms, including but not limited to quizzes, competitions, games, branded videos and content that may inspire viral sharing. Coca-Cola sells a commoditized product and they are experts at using the emotional play with their content to build brand loyalty. “Advertising is getting less effective as technology gives consumers more ways to avoid it. And, media savvy people are comfortable getting information and entertainment from brands. What Coke really understands is the need to embrace their role as a lifestyle brand and create lasting emotional connections with consumers. They are using content, entertainment, video and storytelling to engage customers.” ~ KingFish Media This is where video plays a major role in content distribution as the human viewer connects with the visual cues of the presenter.
- Inspiration. “Simply slapping a call-to-action at the end isn’t enough. Chances are your past content successes contained many, if not all, of the same attributes.” ~ MOZ. Be inspirational! A great singing voice can be found on stage in any local restaurant or tavern. They can also command an audience of thousands. What’s the difference? The difference is the person who can inspire an audience, move them to action and entice them to follow their performance. Anyone who says “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink” is probably not a marketer. Here is where your content needs a social community of supporters, product reviews and endorsements by authority figures in an industry. People love it when they are inspired by other people who have enjoyed doing business with you. Include such inspirational content loaded with legitimate reviews and ratings in your content marketing planner.
- Convince to Convert. While it is said that 80% of prospects become customers based upon emotion the remaining audience buys based upon fact. Your marketing content planner needs to account for this audience. People who buy on fact tend to be professionals that are analytical by nature (Accountants, Engineers, Doctors, Lawyers, etc). To convince this audience to convert your ecommerce platform will need content that details a product or services features, provides case studies, grants free demos in video format, supplies checklists, schedules webinars, creates calculators and price guides. These pieces will contain such information that fuels the rational thinker over the emotional thinker.
- Educate. Building awareness through education is the most common form of content that appeals to the rational thought process. Educating your audience helps fuel your authority over time. The tools and tactics of content that educates includes such formats as quick guides, press releases, trend reports, infographics e-books and basic blog articles. Your content marketing planner needs to account for the audience that is not entirely sure what it is you do, offer or believe. Educational content will help you with that audience.
Your content marketing options should also contain facts and figures about your customer journey, purchase habits and decision styles. This information is best obtained from those who are in regular contact with your customer as well as Google Analytics.
What are your goals for the content you produce? Traffic? Awareness? Attention? Opt-in conversions? Authority? Each of the content styles above, especially when methodically produced using all facets, styles and deliver mechanisms can and will achieve all of those goals over time. Your job is to be committed, consistent and persistent.
Tips to consider during the writing process
Once it’s finally time to start writing, there are several things you should keep in mind.
First, understand that writing for the internet is much different than academic writing or fiction writing. This is true from the tone you use with your content to the way you structure it; if you have not written web copy, blog posts or web articles before, it might take some time to get used to the various best practices associated with content marketing. Use bullet points and sub headers to help break up the content; this makes it less intimidating for people who land on a page with your content who might not be willing to spend the time working through a wall of text. You can also maintain a more conversational style; using personal pronouns, for example, makes your content more personal and informal which can help create a stronger bond with your readers.
You should also be focused on establishing credibility, which is not something you typically need to worry about as much with academic writing. Online readers are much less likely to trust the content you create simply because you are writing under the umbrella of a brand.
To work around this challenge, you must create unbiased, non-promotional content with the intention of helping people, not selling to them. Web users are extremely sensitive to advertising, as we’ve seen with the meteoric rise of ad blockers over the last several years. Your content can establish a lot of credibility simply by genuinely seeking to provide information rather than an advertising opportunity.
You can also provide a boost to your credibility by mentioning your experience or expertise in your particular area, citing sources for all facts or statistics you provide, linking (or getting linked by) other experts in the industry, and maintaining a consistently high level of quality with your content.
Make your content useful
Great content should not only be unique and credible — it should also be useful. People are on the lookout for actionable, practical content, so the more practical tips you can provide, the better. Ask yourself what the reader wants to think or do, and convert those specific points into tips or calls to action in your content.
There should always be clear takeaways from what you write. Readers should come away with a good idea of what they can do to improve themselves or solve their problem.
High-quality content is not always easy to create, but it is an essential building block for content marketing success. You cannot become a content authority without putting an emphasis on developing high-quality written copy.
Stay tuned next week as we focus on the next essential step in creating authority content.
Queen of the Machine for Viral Solutions LLC
“If a brand genuinely wants to make a social contribution, it should start with who they are, not what they do. For only when a brand has defined itself and its core values can it identify causes or social responsibility initiatives that are in alignment with its authentic brand story.” ~ Simon Mainwaring